If you’re involved in an accident, there are several things you can do to help the process go a little more smoothly. Generally speaking, accidents involving CDL drivers tend to be held to stricter fines and penalties than those involving personal vehicles, so it pays to be aware of the policies your carrier has in place for accidents, as well as some general guidelines for all truckers.
It is the responsibility of the police and the insurance companies to decide who is at fault in an accident, so the same advice for traffic stops is valid in accidents, too: never make any statements that could be considered an admission of guilt.
The procedure you follow after an accident will depend largely on your carrier and their policies, but it is likely you will have to complete drug and alcohol testing after the accident. The results of these tests will be a large factor in what happens next.
At the scene of the accident, your first step should always be to call the police even if no one is injured and the accident is minor. If someone is injured, even if it does not look like a serious injury, call for medical assistance.
After you have called police and medical assistance if necessary, call your carrier’s fleet manager or the accident management representative. Your carrier’s policies may require you to file a state vehicle accident report as well.
It is advisable for all commercial drivers at the scene of the accident to make a comprehensive report of all related details. This should include the time, date, and location of the accident, physical and property damages, the cause of the accident, the involvement of each party in the accident, and the names and badge numbers of any police officers at the scene. If possible, write down each person’s contact information, vehicle registration, the other driver’s insurance information and contact information for any witnesses. It’s also helpful to include weather and traffic conditions and any other details that will help you remember things accurately.
Lastly, if you don’t have a dashboard-mounted camera, use your mobile phone to photograph the scene of the accident and the position of the vehicles before they are moved. These photos could help you as supporting evidence later.
Certain offenses, including leaving the scene of an accident or vehicular manslaughter, could cause you to lose your commercial driver’s license and, ultimately, your job – even if you test negative for evidence of any drug or alcohol use. The action taken for other offenses depends largely on your carrier and, often, your driving record and safety history.
In almost any case, if you are issued a ticket, you will have points added to your CSA score. If your score is too high, you can seek legal counsel to determine what your options are.